As you know, USA Hockey changed its rule about helmets, specifically regarding the expiration of the helmet “certification” based on the HECC approval ratings. At the outset, it is important for parents to know that this issue is one involving their children’s HEADS. In this day and age, the medical information regarding the consequences of concussions and their long term effects upon someone who has suffered a concussion is enormous. The age old belief that a young player, or anyone for that matter, could simply shrug off a concussive hit to the head with absolutely no consequence is simply incorrect. Concussions are perhaps the most common form of injury to contact sports players yet only recently has the medical information regarding the long term effects of concussions really been brought to center stage. In this vein, the ability to lessen the incidence of concussions or perhaps lessen the severity of concussions is of vital importance. The first step in the process for accomplishing these goals is to identify the importance of proper equipment for the head, namely the helmet. According to the literature, helmets are not designed to last forever nor maintain their protective qualities forever. USA Hockey has identified that helmets have a “useful” life and has amended its rules to reflect the manufacturer’s and HECC’s recommendations. Now, turning to our dilemma as officials and the implementation and enforcement of this rule, we all can see the difficulty with the rule itself. First and foremost, the player and his/her parents are responsible for wearing the proper equipment. The onus for doing so rests squarely on the player. Now I recognize that the younger the player, the more the responsibility rests on the parents. And perhaps parents require more awareness of the concussion issues but I would like to think that the parents have their player’s safety issue as a priority. Click HERE to continue reading.